If the frequently asked questions below do not answer your question, you can:
- Search for answers on Wikipedia itself
- Ask fellow DWN members through the Members Teams site
- Email DWN lead, Lucy Panesar on UALDecolonisingWikipediaNetwork@arts.ac.uk
Some useful guidance is also offered in this YouTube video of a Decolonising Wikipedia Network event on 16 December 2020.
Frequently Asked Questions
About this Network
Why is editing Wikipedia pages important for decolonisation and anti-racism?
Wikipedia attracts, on average, views from 1.4 billion unique devices each month. As one of the most widely-used information sources in the world, it is paramount that Wikipedia represents the breadth of diversity that exists in all fields, be that academic or otherwise. When a person, group of people or topic is underrepresented or misrepresented on Wikipedia, this causes a problem for racialised and marginalised communities whose place in the world is continuously threatened by racism and erasure. Editing Wikipedia is a means of reclaiming space for those who are marginalised on an online platform used by so many people worldwide.
Why set up this network?
The Decolonising Wikipedia Network aims to bring together students and staff to edit and create pages for underrepresented and misrepresented practitioners and topics with a view to creating a fairer and more representational point of reference. We know that representation has a direct impact on student belonging and success (NUS UUK, 2019), so ensuring that topics, artists and thinkers from diverse backgrounds are fairly represented is a useful intervention in the Euro/White-centric canon that has been tradition for so long.
How many pages have been edited so far?
You can get up to date stats on the editing activities of DWN members from the DWN dashboard.
Who can participate?
As of October 2021, any UAL student or staff member can join the Decolonising Wikipedia Network, so please share the network with anyone you know at UAL who may be interested. If you are not a student or member of staff at UAL, we invite you to follow guidance within this website, and to set up similar networks in your own communities and organisations. Wikimedia UK are happy to support individual and organisations to do this as part of their expert outreach work. Alternatively, if you would like to support the work of the UAL Decolonising Wikipedia Network or one of our projects, as an individual or as part of another organisation, please email Lucy on UALDecolonisingWikipediaNetwork@arts.ac.uk
How committed do I have to be?
There is no minimum or maximum requirement for engagement; you can do as little or as much as you like and leave DWN at any time. All contributions are welcome and valid – you can even sign up just to see what other DWN members are doing!
Will there be any live editing sessions?
Yes – we have already held editing workshops including live editing and plan to hold more of these through the 2021-22 academic year. Some of these will be for DWN members only.
Do people get notified when I edit their Wikipedia page?
Not directly, but it’s likely that they will check at some point and see your edits! You are also welcome to contact them if you want to share your work directly.
How can a teacher embed the Decolonising Wikipedia Network into their curriculum?
In the 2020-21 academic year a number of courses at UAL London College of Communication actively promoted or embedded Wikipedia decolonisation into their curricula. To find out more and discuss ways to embed this work into your curriculum for 2021-22, please email Lucy on UALDecolonisingWikipediaNetwork@arts.ac.uk
Is Wikipedia always reliable? Does it contain biases?
Wikipedia is edited and maintained by a vast user-base. For the most part, Wikipedia is trustworthy as long as you follow through with citations. There are many potential reasons, however, for biases on Wikipedia. It is worth noting that:
- Writers are mostly from Europe and North America
- Only about 10% of Wikipedia’s writers are women
- Only about 18% of biographies on English Wikipedia are about women
- Other factors that may contribute to biases included access to tech and digital poverty and the pervasiveness of English as dominant in online spaces.
Since Wikipedia is such a renowned and widely-used platform, we believe it is essential that these biases are addressed. Through editing and creating pages through anti-racist and decolonial lenses, we believe that positive, long-lasting change can be made..
Is there a way of searching for stubs?
The English Wikipedia has about 3 million ‘stub’ articles – pages which are very short and need more information. These are categorised by hand. You can navigate round them by searching for ‘category:subject stubs’, replacing ‘subject’ with the topic you’re interested in. For example if you search for ‘category:history stubs’ you will be given a list of results for various categories, including ‘Category:History stubs‘. Some categories are enormous and will have lots of sub-categories, so it helps to click around and explore what’s in there.
Can you set up alerts for when pages are updated?
Wikipedia lets you create your own feed of edits to pages you’re interested in. This is reached by clicking on the ‘watchlist‘ button in the top right of your screen when you’re logged in. Pages you created are automatically added to your watchlist. You can add any other page you’re interested in by clicking on the star icon just to the left of the search box.
Editing Wikipedia pages
How do I get started?
First follow the instructions on the join page to become a DWN member. Then visit the guidance page on getting started with identifying Wikipedia pages to edit, reliable sources, and making your first edit.
In what way am I qualified to write and edit articles on topics that are seen as biased and academically unreliable?
If you don’t feel comfortable writing about something in particular, there is no expectation for you to do so. If, however, you have carried out thorough research and can provide citations for whatever you add to Wikipedia, there is no reason to feel under-qualified. After all, we are the people that are here to remove the biases and improve the credibility of information on Wikipedia. If in doubt, reach out to other DWN members for support or possible collaboration.
Do I need to be ‘autoconfirmed’ in order to edit a Wikipedia page?
Autoconfirmation generally occurs when a user has contributed 10 edits and their account is at least 4 days old. Some restrictions may be in place until you reach these milestones, however even editing a draft page will count towards this.
If I upload my own image, does it belong to Wikipedia or do I retain my own copyright?
This online module will guide you through the process of uploading. In short, content which you upload onto Wikipedia Commons must be licensed under a free license. However, please note the following from this page on reusing content outside Wikipedia:
“The Wikimedia Foundation owns almost none of the content on Wikimedia sites — the content is owned, instead, by the individual creators of it. However, almost all content hosted on Wikimedia Commons may be freely reused subject to certain restrictions (in many cases). “
Copyright law is complicated and nuanced – we suggest checking here before uploading for more detailed information related to your needs. If in doubt, please get in touch!
Can I upload an image of an identifiable person? Do I need a model release?
According to this resource on identifiable subjects:
“The subject’s consent is usually needed for publishing a photograph of an identifiable individual taken in a private place, and Commons expects this even if local laws do not require it.”
How long does it take for the writing/images to be reviewed and approved etc?
Once you publish any changes or edits to existing Wikipedia pages they will go live immediately; you are your own reviewer! New pages you have drafted will be reviewed by experienced editors. Once approved, it could take some weeks or months before they appear in search engines. Ways to speed this up are detailed on the guidance page.
You are welcome to share your works in progress with us. Whether you want some help or advice before your edits go live or you just want to share what you’ve achieved, we’d love to see and add it to the DWN examples page!
Can more than one person work on an article at the same time?
Yes! We absolutely encourage collaboration. How you coordinate collaboration is up to you; it might be that you take on individual research/editing responsibilities or that each collaborator edits the page as and when they have something to add. You can find other DWN members to collaborate with through the DWN Members Teams site. And if you need any support with collaboration, please get in touch.
I’m not sure if my edit is up to standard; can you check it?
I have a technical issue or question about editing
Again, you can seek technical help by connecting with other DWN members or by emailing UALDecolonisingWikipediaNetwork@arts.ac.uk